Getting my head wrapped around how to use Zorin

I am brand new to Zorin which looks like the cat's meow for me. I have a long and checker history with computers - started out in late 1960's key punching cards for batch type IBM programs. Since then I've marched thru DOS, and almost all versions of Windows. That said I am so NOT a 'geek' and a total wash with programming. I migrated to Linux (Mint) about 5 years ago mainly due to Windows sliding into more Goggle like - user $ucking oriented. And I got so tired of constant updates and changes from OS versions that did NOT do a thing for me other than find what MS wanted to know.

So what am I expecting from using Zorin? My vision is to use a USB stick to 'drive' the new Lenovo laptop that I had to buy because my 'old' IBM ThinkPad was dying. So now I am faced with having to learn another (Windows) OS which is loaded with MS bloatware. Sooooo having an 'off 'puter' OS that I can keep all my (private) information on sounds fabulous to me.

I have started to read How to put Zorin on a USB and ended up down the old rabbit hole following instructions after instructions too often with 'tech lingo' that undermined/sidetracked the instructions. So here's a 'lite' warning - I will ask some annoying 'newbie' questions and just hope that the Staff here can take those with gentle humor and patience.

Lastly, I think Zorin Lite is probably all that I need (personal use, NOT a 'gamer').


The 'staff' here are all unpaid volunteers! :wink:

You could use two usb sticks - one to run Zorin Lite live, the other to store your data on, just as you would when using that other OS. If you still have Linux Mint on the failing Notebook, you could install MultiSystem to add Zorin Lite to boot from. If you have a large USB stick you could partition it to have two separate FAT32 partitions - one for the bootable live OS, the other to store personal data. I am not a Lite user as I can't stand xfce unless it is absolutely necessary (like my good lady's PC that has MX-Linux on it (xfce)).


If you get a big enough USB stick to burn Zorin OS to, and you plug it into a computer running Zorin OS with Zorin Appearance > Desktop > Icons On Desktop (enabled) > Mounted Volumes (enabled), you'll see that the USB stick actually has two icons on the desktop... one says Zorin OS 16.2 Core 64bit, the other says writable.

That writable is where you can store your personal files, up to the data capacity of the USB stick... so the bigger, the better.

In fact, I'd partition the USB stick so you set aside a section of the drive about triple the size of the Zorin OS .ISO file (so about 10 to 15 GB... the first Zorin OS USB partition takes 3.1 GB, the second takes 4.3 MB, the rest of the drive is the writable partition) for Zorin OS, then another partition that's readable by both Windows and Linux (NTFS, FAT32, etc.) to store your personal files on. That way, if ever the Zorin OS won't boot, you just walk that USB stick over to any other computer (Linux or Windows) and you've got access to your files.

Then just get a large external USB drive to archive your personal files (check out my BackupToZip bash script... I just compressed a 1 TB drive .IMG file down to 4.5 GB).


If all of your stuff runs from the USB drive, printer, camera, mic, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc, why not just install it?

Most likely thing not to work is the wifi but there are fixes such as:

Check out my tips for noobs:

1 Like

The point of USB is useful for security if say using a netbook on holiday. People seem to think that they can walk up to any PC and run it on machines not owned by them, it will not work. Admins (good ones), will have disabled BIOS and one time boot options, not to mention disabling USB completely.


Are you convinced your old ThinkPad is end-of-life, as I believe they make great Linux (ZorinOS) machines and are robust.
Maybe you could start another thread in "Hardware Support" section to discuss that, if you wish.


Many thanks for sharing your insights. I'm finding myself overwhelmed with 1) all the 'stuff' that I have accumulated in my current PC laptop and 2) all the gotta-dos that I will need for jumping over to my new (Lenovo) laptop. Once I get serious about just DOing this, the old one-thing-at-a-time routine will get me done.

What fries me most about all the 'new' OSs, apps etc. is that I do NOT need nor want to use about 90%+ of those yet those are bloated on and for the most part not removable from devices these days. That is not what I need or want at all.
What I want is to 1) retain privacy as much as possible while 'online'. [hence all data on USB that I can toggle on/off as I browse.] 2) End up having ONE, always up to date, source for my data/files etc. [so tired of backing up before updating] 3) Being able to use a 'lite' OS that isn't bloated with all the 'office/business' stuff that I do NOT need.

I do have a 256 GB USB stick that I would partition IF I can use that same stick as my 'computer OS' and run all the few other programs - Thunderbird email etc. - that I actually do use. That seems possible, I'm just here to figure out HOW.
Many thanks again!

1 Like

Dang Mr. Magoo, I am gaga that you are SO knowledgeable and honored that you have shared that with me too. I'm just a bit less 'geeky' than I probably need to be to take it all in (at this moment). I for sure will be bookmarking this thread for reference as I plod along. Thanks ever so much.

1 Like

If I could 'download' YOU Mr. TabNumlock, I am sure I could get my act together and command this project like a wizard! But alas I am (at this time) a meek mouse of a digital dino.

Believe it or not, I don't even have a cell phone! And I am happy to have all the peripheral equipment that I do (seldom) use managed by the Lenovo. Guess I am enough of a 1984 freak that being as less visible - world wide - as possible simply suits me. I'm also a total klutz at the terminal (which frankly scares me) to keep things as simple as possible.

Thanks for your reply.

1 Like

GOOD to know swarfendor!! I am thinking 99% for own personal PC use. I do know that the local library's computers don't even have any USB connectors! I would most likely travel with the Lenovo laptop not only to keep checked in, but also as our video entertainment machine.

1 Like

The ThinkPad that I now have was a rebuild and had been OK, however the Windows 7 partition took a hike just in time for the Linux Mint to need updating. Rather than go thru alllll that I opted to go for a newer machine to hopefully last longer than the seemingly near constant updating that I dread.

Much as I grit my teeth with all the Windows versions, I still prefer the old Wordpad which meets my needs quite well. Yeah LibreOffice Writer is OK, but I have never found it to be as user friendly and useful as Wordpad. Kinda silly to buy a Windows 11 OS just to get ONE program (which of course MS would never offer as an 'app'?!?) Oh well, I am so less than the .01% that would be that market! lol)

Anyone want an old ThinkPad tossed their way??

1 Like

The equivalent of Wordpad here on Zorin is Text Editor :spiral_notepad:, simple but also a bit customizable. Just right-click anywhere > click New Document > TXT.

Just had a browse. You could take a loik at no frills Focus Writer, or a lighter Word Processor, AbiWord. I don't normally promote Apps that don't work with a screen reader, AbiWord being one of them.

1 Like

I'm working on a script that configures the Zorin OS Boot USB to the way I want it after booting. So I'd boot the USB stick, start the script, then it'd go through all the settings and change them to my preferences.

The advantage of this is that you don't need antivirus at all. Set the Zorin OS Boot USB as read-only (I'm not sure this'll work, but I'll try it), and if you get a virus, you just reboot, rerun the configuration script, and you're back to the settings you want. This would be especially good for kid's computers... they can't mess up the OS through their tinkering to such an extent that a reboot wouldn't fix it.

So technically, you could do away with the internal drive, or use it as storage. It needn't have any OS on it at all.

But ideally, a way of changing your installed OS to a squashfs OS and burning it to a USB stick would be the way to go... if you crash your installed OS, you just boot the USB, install it, and you're back up and running with the exact settings, packages, etc. that you want. If you make a permanent change to the installed OS (say, by installing a package), you'd have to redo the squashfs OS to reflect that, but that's doable. With VenToy, you could have multiple copies of the squashfs OS, so if the change you made causes your computer to crash, you just boot an older squashfs OS and install it. Sort of a 'snapshot' management system, but using the installation USB stick as the storage for those 'snapshots'.

1 Like

Yes, for corporate computers, most will be locked down so you can't boot from a USB stick. But not all computers are corporately-owned.

Your brother's personal computer is most likely going to be running Windows, and if you don't have access to your own computer, but you've got a Zorin OS Boot USB with your personal files stored in a separate partition readable by Windows and Linux (NTFS, FAT32), you've got two choices:

  1. Boot the USB and use Zorin OS to access your personal files
  2. Use the installed OS to access your personal files

So, depending upon which the computer owner desires, you've still got access to your files in a pinch.

Gday & Welcome @jain , There are 2 different DE's ( desktop environments ) Gnome & XFCE,
I use the Gnome DE as it's very similar to windows desktop, were as XFCE is more like a Mac desktop.
Zorin pro & core use GNOME DE,( Pro also Includes the XFCE DE ) & Zorin lite use's the XFCE DE.
As far as installing/uninstalling apps/things for now may create more issue's/rabbit holes.
My process into learning, was to install Zorin core to a usb stick, & Installed fully. ( when i broke ( from playing/sussing out thing's) the os ), i just reinstalled from the usb stick ( a life saver :smile: ) & still have the usb stick handy.
As for usb setup try this,

Good luck & dont hesitate to ask questions, even if you think their silly, as sometimes the simple questions/answers can trigger your mind in the correct way to help.

1 Like

You may find the tutorials and guides category of this forum helpful with both your needs and learning about this OS. Installing Zorin would give you the option to do a minimal install, which removed much of the office "bloat" you don't require.

Working from a USB will be slower and not transferable to another computer unless you use the live image ("Try Zorin"), defeating your desire to have it minimal since you cannot simply customize the bootable image (it's a bit of work, I know, I've tried). Running from the live image would also require a second partition (sectioned part of the drive, like a file cabinet drawer) to store your files since the live image doesn't have persistent storage (storage that survives reboots).

Installation would be your best option, though you dread it so, and we will be here to walk you through any issues you encounter. While it's not ideal, it will also provide you with a hand through the learning curve anyone must address when exploring the use of a new OS. Being that you are familiar with Mint, this would not be such a big change, and much simpler than you anticipate.

Explore, learn and if you need help, we will be here.

1 Like

As Windows is Spyware it would make sense to disable TPM in the BIOS and always boot into the GNU/Linux distro of choice. You could also temporarily use the Cloud if needs be.

1 Like

Your description of Pro is slightly off as purchasers of Pro get both the Gnome DE and xfce versions. The xfce version also looks like the Core version but uses different file managers and Window managers and the back end such as Settings are different. I don't like xfce and it appears to be going the way of Gnome by not listening to users or third party developers, and I've gone back to my initial choice of DE when I started my GNU/Linux adventure, KDE (Plasma) but on Devuan 3.1.1.

1 Like

Cheers @swarfendor437 , I have corrected it thanks for that.